Heading south on US Hwy 191 takes you to San Juan County and the southeastern part of Utah where Utah’s Canyon Country mixes with a world of adventure, ancient history, and scenery that just keeps on going. Dig deeper into this area by visiting utahscanyoncountry.com.
Monticello, the gateway to the Abajo Mountains, is about 60 miles south of Moab where the Abajo Loop Scenic Byway crosses the lower part of the mountains coming out at Blanding. The road reaches an elevation of 8,200ft and has a spectacular overlook of the area. The Abajos offer year-round activities. Monticello is also the closest town to the Indian Creek unit of Bears Ears National Monument where there is world-class rock climbing. The Needles district of Canyonlands is easily accessible and there are options to see this district up close rather than looking out over it as you do from the Island in the Sky district. Hikes down into the canyons and to the Colorado River make seeing this part of Canyonlands a truly unforgettable experience.
Lloyds Lake is a reservoir located just 1.6 miles from Monticello and a great place to walk your dog. The 2.3-mile loop trail has little traffic and beautiful views. The lake has some good fishing as well.
The Monticello Visitor Center is right on Main Street (US Hwy 191) where you can get more information on the area.
Blanding is a central location for adventure filled with amazing night skies, history, and culture, all while exploring Bears Ears National Monument. Home to two of the country’s most amazing museums, Edge of the Cedars, and the Dinosaur Museumboth of these museums are must stops!
The Blanding Visitor Center is modeled after an 1800s ranch house and contains the Pioneer Museum (free to all visitors).
Recapture Reservoir is a beautiful lake south of Blanding. The lake offers fishing, boating, and camping.
Bluff, named for the towering sandstone bluffs near the town, has had residents since 650 A.D. and is loaded with history from ancestral Puebloans, Ute, and Navajo people. Dwellings and rock imagery can be found all around this area dating back more than 2,000 years.
Bluff sits right on the northern shore of the San Juan River and is an active center for artists and writers. This cool little town has some of the best art stores around. You can even buy local art in some of the local restaurants.
Historic Bluff City was founded in 1880, making it the oldest community in southeast Utah. The famous “Hole in the Rock” expedition of Mormon (Latter-Day Saints) pioneers came to the area on a mission to establish an agricultural community on the San Juan River.
Tourism has become a strong component of the local economy. Guided trips down the San Juan River or in the Bears Ears National Monument are popular activities.
Bluff is in the center of the Grand Circle, a driving tour which links numerous iconic western national parks, national monuments, and state parks. Bluff is also a great base to explore the canyons of Cedar Mesa and Grand Gulch. Bluff’s proximity to the Navajo Nation means that there is a strong Navajo feel to the town.
The Bluff Fort Visitor Center is open daily and is a wonderful museum to visit. For information regarding Bears Ears, make sure to stop first at the Bears Ears Education Center located on US Hwy 191.